I admit: I have not always thought of social media as a marketing tool. Years ago, social media simply meant playtime. You want to procrastinate, sure, log onto facebook. I still see the college students in my classroom, clicking away as I attempted to lecture about why academic writing is so important. I couldn’t win against social media; it was my enemy. However, a few years ago, I worked as a Communications Assistant at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art. We were preparing for the reopening of the building – the first time the Museum would be open for the 35,000 U-M students and the Ann Arbor townies in years. Sure enough, one of my colleagues recommended we use Twitter and Facebook to update our fans and inform perspective art enthusiasts. The reopening was a huge success due, in part, to our social media strategies.
After working at two start-up companies as an Online Marketer, I can barely imagine what marketing would be like if social media were entirely excluded or ignored. Yesterday, I came across an interesting article (thank you to Twitter and its professional development abilities): Amy Jo Martin’s To Monetize Social Media, Humanize It. Martin discusses some of the overwhelmingly popular assumptions that frown on social media as if it’s a clown wearing a big red nose. As she says, “Put it this way: If I gained a follower every time a CEO rolled his eyes at me when I said ‘Twitter,’ I’d be Lady Gaga (11.2 million followers).” Arguably, the word “social media” is misleading; while some use this medium as a media for entertainment purposes, marketing specialists have used it as a rather remarkable tool, and, given its success, should be taken seriously.
Martin compares social media to a telephone, though I would dare compare it to a televised conference with countless cameramen: Anyone can talk the talk, walk the walk; anyone can join the discussion. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, offers the capacity for a high volume audience, and even better, a high volume response. However wonderful that may sound, a social media platform is not a game to see who is the loudest; (who yells at a televised conference, anyway?) Social media is about offering remarkable content, as authors, Dharmash Shah and David Scott say in their book, Inbound Marketing . It’s about value. As Martin would agree, it’s about humanizing your brand, exposing real, genuine people and promise. That’s what I love about social media as a marketing tool. Finally, companies, institutions, ideas—you name it—have a face, a personality, a meaning that is communicable. It’s stronger than any old logo. We’re no longer distanced from our work; we’re not just a body or a task checked off. We are the idea, transformed and exposed as the idea. I think it makes people better, companies—better. We are forever attached to our actions, our campaigns, our strategies. And thus, we must trust our actions, campaigns, strategies, and others will, too. We are our brand, and the brand is us.
Please, join in the discussion! Thank you for reading.